From New York Magazine (which is pretty eclectic in the opinions it publishes):
Jussie Smollett Is Free. That’s Good, Whether He’s Guilty or Not.
By Zak Cheney-Rice
… It’s easy to forget, amid the outcry, that leniency has rarely been a problem in Cook County. Nearly 8,000 people were in jail there as of Tuesday. Black residents comprise 24 percent of the county population but almost 75 percent of those locked up. These figures did not come about because prosecutors used kid gloves. Nor was the Smollett investigation a particularly egregious drain on resources that law enforcement was otherwise using effectively. That the Chicago police clear less than 18 percent of homicides in a given year suggests that those incarcerated are generally not even the individuals who most immediately threaten their fellow civilians.
In this light, few enraged by Smollett’s case seem to have considered what should be intuitive — that Tuesday’s decision was a perfectly reasonable response to a system that locks up far too many people while offering inadequate ways to address the most serious crimes. This not a conclusion rooted in conjecture, or reached in haste out of expediency. Rather, it is entirely consistent with mandates set forth years ago by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, as articulated on its website, in State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s campaign platform, and on Tuesday by Joe Magats, the first assistant state’s attorney who made the decision to drop charges against Smollett. (Foxx recused herself from the case.)
Now she says she didn’t, you know, formally recuse herself.
Whether he’s guilty or not, it is right that Smollett should avoid the prison time so many wished upon him. “This was not an exoneration,” Magats told WLS, clarifying that he did not see Tuesday’s outcome as an admission of Smollett’s innocence. “To say that he was exonerated by us or anyone is not true. We believe he did what he was charged with doing.” Magats’s decision, then, arose from an altogether different set of considerations — namely, that he felt Smollett’s shellacking in the court of public opinion, service to the local community, and forfeiture of $10,000 in bond money to the city were sufficient punishment for a nonviolent infraction where nobody was physically harmed and whose primary victim was the Chicago Police Department’s pride.
It was an elaborately plotted hate crime against the white community.
And is that so unreasonable? … To the extent that incarceration is ever appropriate in its current American manifestation, it should be used sparingly to protect people from those who would harm them. Smollett clearly does not qualify. …
It seems reasonable, on the other hand, for a prosecutor’s office that years ago committed itself to reform, to enact precisely the types of reforms it promised.